Tuesday 30 June 2015

German Nimbus 1980, masterpiece of fusion [No Download!]

I hate to do this to you again Tom but I will simply quote your recent review at this time before adding my own thoughts to your inevitably correct assessment:

Of all the albums in his latest dig, I have to say Nimbus (Germany) is one that I keep hearing about, but never have actually heard. Its reputation is stellar, so does it live up to the "hype" as it were? I use the term hype carefully, but I fear to say that there are many out there who do, in fact, hype this one to me. As in "buy my CD-R... now!" (I don't buy or trade CD-Rs, but that doesn't seem to stop the solicitors of such).  And one can't possibly have a deep dive expedition without at least one Kraut Fusion album, now can we?  "Yet another instrumental progressive fusion rarity from the vast German private press scene. But this one's a cut above the norm, with excellent compositions spiced with a healthy does of progressive rock, keeping things interesting all the way through. The keyboard work in particular stands out. Unfortunately, the sound could do with some cleaning up, which makes a reissue all the more necessary. This is certainly in the top tier for this style, so hopefully one of the German labels will step up to the plate someday."

The music is as The AC describes, a highly melodic instrumental jazz rock album, with guitar and keyboards in the lead. Bands like Surgery, Mosaik, Moira, and Profil are all good guideposts here, and all just as obscure as hell too (though at least the former did get reissued by Garden of Delights

Priority: 3

I probably would have rated it higher, but I have more of a predilection for fusion, obviously.  In order to present a suitable track for sampling I elected to use the fourth track.  The first (Hymn) is a relatively simplistic, perhaps commercially oriented fusion or fuzak track, the second takes it a bit further in a symphonic direction with the summer's evening sound, the interaction particularly of rhodes and electric guitar make for a wonderful interplay, though the invention is not sustained to the end as I felt it should be.  As we often see in these situations, the third track is a throwaway noise thing, luckily less than a minute long.  The fourth is called Forum and it is here that you can listen:

Note how nicely the keys and guitar play together here, a big feature of this record's attractiveness.  Unfortunately, side b comprises the two long progressive and interesting tracks (Living and Sinus), particularly the final one where a kind of Crimsonesque ambition prevails.  Altogether, worth seeking out, and apparently on contacting band members, from where my own rip originated, they are quite open to a release of this work.  Perhaps if there is more clamour for it they will be more convinced?

Sunday 28 June 2015

Blackberry Winter, US 1975 [no download]

You will notice that the copy for sale here is a little pricey-- 300 USD -- which perhaps goes a long way towards explaining why I am not allowed to present a download.  Instead I will feature some great songwriting from this record with the very evocative cover painting, my favourite being a song called Aging:

Although relatively trite as lyrics the evocation of aging, musically, is really artistically remarkable.  Another standout track, After the Rain with its lovely chorus modulation up a minor third:

Another great song, Answers:

So what we have here is some very crafty, original songwriting, no special progressive tendencies, but surprisingly beautiful-- not as compelling as the Exceptions album, but certainly well worth seeking out to hear.  I think it really deserves a cd reissue, on the basis that plenty of middle-aged men will love this type of mid-seventies soft rock material, though I'm sure Tom would disagree.

Friday 26 June 2015

Bellvista's The Painter from the US 1982 [review no download]

This magnificent album in the progressive fusion vein is the mastermind of Peter Calo, and predictably it's guitar-oriented and smooth, but excellent and unknown.

The Poet:

I've listened to this track a hundred times and every time I just get sucked into it again listening to what this genius guitarist was trying to tell us with his slow-paced E flat introduction, almost sounding improvised, leading into plucked, pizzicato chords in G and a melody in unison on 1st and 6th strings octaves apart, then conjoined with those absolutely gorgeous high harmonics played  almost simultaneously (like Lenny Breau was able to do).  I'm reminded of the poem by Baudelaire about Albatrosses who are caught on long sea voyages by sailors, their wings are clipped and they must remain on the boat's deck as the cruel humans amuse themselves with these giants birds.  Thus, the kicker in the last stanza: The poet is similar to this bird who wishes he could fly but can't and instead walks the earth ungainly and awkward, to be laughed at by everyone.  And one could say the same about any serious artists-- including the composer of this record, certainly.

Next, the Painter, which is somewhat more commercialized fusion:

And the song entitled Belle Vista just shocked me too with its fade-in approach of a delicate deconstructed A chord passing from major to minor like the doppler shift of a streetcar rumbling by, then the very evocative scene, perhaps Napa valley, of rolling hills created with the light chord change from A to D minor to C to Bsus, which beautifully moves to B major, G, B, G, A, then D minor again, C, Bsus.  This sequence which sounds so odd on paper works absolutely perfectly due to the fact the B melody recalls the same arpeggio of the A intro (and the preceding Bsus sounds like that same minor to major transfer) and the 'return to' A recalls the same phrase.  Only until the guitar solo do the chords clarify themselves as such, it's kind of like an aural illusion (analogous to the optical kind) as the B and A sound like the same.  Have a listen:

And stay until the end when the outro takes off in a chord progression that is really unexpected, not the usual circle of fourth type series.   A lot of thought or alternatively a lot of inspiration went into that track.  Was he sitting on one of those (godawful) trenitalia in Tuscany, perhaps, when he thought of it?

Thursday 25 June 2015

Piano Choir's Handscapes 2 [no download, review only]

So:  those who love progressive music please salute this installment.  This group of pianists made two records in the mid-seventies, and this one was posted by the boxes of toys blog so I direct you there. Bascially if you donate to Gianni, even just a small amount, you can access the wav rip.  I recommend it.

The group consists of the following musicians: Danny Mixon, Harold Mabern, Hugh Lawson, Nat Jones, Sonelius Smith, Stanley Cowell, Webster Lewis.  The full information can be found on discogs.  First of all going quickly over that tracklist you can be sure we are dealing with some very ambitious progressive music here, just from perusing the titles.  The wonderfully named Hugh Lawson composition Ballad For The Beast From Bali-Bali starts with grand piano and synth noodling, but without hesitation moves into the arena of George Gruntz's wonderful piano conclave: intense, odd, fusiony, and oh-so interesting.  The track that follows, Sonelius Smith's The Need to Smile threw me to the floor with the opening mellotron strings soprano touches, as an electric piano plays an almost dissonant obligato in a different key, the different keyboards (electric, synth, acoustic) charm us with their weaving together of a complex pattern, like one of those richly hued arab carpets full of colors and geometry:

And that title!  yes, listening to these consummate artists, there is indeed a need to smile...

Barbara Ann is a gospel, Keith Jarrett-influenced acoustic composition by Webster Lewis.  This track and the first of side b were posted on soundcloud by Gianni.  The Prayer for Peace by Stanley Cowell, the last track, will shock you like an electrocution if you love polytonality and advanced-level, postgraduate composition.  It's a stunner.  I recommend it for teaching purposes at university schools of music-- advanced composition classes only for the most highly talented please.

"...seven consummate keyboard artists...together as one, and as one, together."

Their first record, a double LP, was available online and for me is somewhat more disappointing.  It's more meandering, sometimes completely free and improvised and less cohesively progressive.  Less generously it could be described as all over the place.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

La La Lapla's Seathrough from UK 1979 [review, no download]

Here's an album that although nothing special from the curating prog standpoint, really got under my skin in terms of its endearing arena rock ambitions.  We are in the late seventies Britain here so you can except a slight punkish attitude on top of the hard-driving Iggy Pop or twisted-mouth vocalizing David Bowie reminiscences.  There are several clear attempts at commercial success that failed probably only on the basis they were perhaps too thought-out, not simplistic enough, for the average radio listener at that time.  Any song for example that uses in its title the words "Rock n' Roll" can be expected to be pandering to radio hit whoredom.  But listen to the charming oddness of their "Rock n' Roll Little Thing.  In particular, notice the distinctly very odd (for rock) modulation out of the key (B?) to a minor second up (C) after the chorus.

A softer attempt with Belinda's Song to me really recalls the soft Kiss songs like Beth.

David's Song:

Database information here.  A sadly neglected record, with what I consider to be a gorgeous cover (artist, Les Williams).  Band members' names are Barry Jones, vocals, Bruce Drummond, guitar and vocals, Paul Houldey, drums, Roger Gerrard, bass, and Colin Jarman on keys.  Was their anonymous doom sealed by the ridiculous chosen name, perhaps?  Note the high price of the copy on sale from osurec.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

John Blair's Mystical Soul in 1971 [no download, but check this outrageously good track]

Mostly again consisting of cover versions of songs that really didn't need to be stolen, such as The Beatles' Golden Slumbers (one of my favourite lullabies to sing to my children, god bless McCartney) and Ooh Child, that anthem of black resistance of the sixties, there is one self-penned song that just knocked me over like a baseball bat when I heard it, recalling the best soulful singers like Bill Withers, the reverend Al Green, etc., called Sometimes a Man:

There are two more tracks he composed on side b which are distinctly inferior.  What was the setting for this wonderful composition, his apology to his girlfriend for a mistake of infidelity?  I don't know, but as a true artist must, he created out of pain and soul a piece of utter beauty that every human being in the world should hear.  I hate to get into details when the actual melody combined with the heartfelt lyrics are so gorgeous, but notice how artfully the acoustic guitar adds arpeggiated interest in the right channel with the rhodes piano on the left, at least until the string section overcrowds the sound.

Quickly, from discogs, a bit about this man:

Violinist & guitarist born November 8th 1943 Toledo, Ohio. Dr. John Blair grew up in California and began taking violin lessons as a child, graduating with honors from Lincoln High School in San Diego in 1961. Blair became a heavy academic, holding degrees from Eastman and Curtis conservatories. He even founded a school (The Universal Natural System). He is most known for inventing the Vitar, an acoustic combination of violin and guitar. He was featured on many jazz funk in the early 70's and released a few sought after psych-funk releases on Mercury, Columbia and CTI. 
During the 80's he disappeared off the map never to return. 
He died June 3rd 2006 of Heart failure in New York, NY.

RIP John, I wish your song could live forever since it is not allowed for us humans...

Sunday 21 June 2015

Derwyn Holder's Astral Visions and their Time Open from USA, 1977 [Review only no download]

Derwyn is a bassist.  He assembled an amazing group for this release.  Because everything seems to have come together just beautifully (perhaps with the exception of the singer, her name is Jo Ann Stephano Young).  None of the artists actually played elsewhere it seems. The guitarist is Ken Navarro, pianist Bob Hallahan, percussionist Mike Smith.  I will simply quote the blurb on the back for insight:

2500 odd years ago Plato and Aristotle initially purported that the purpose of Art was to give pleasure.  They went on to discuss the means to achieve this, thus beginning a controversy that has raged ever since.  The arguments and the Art have become enormously complex over the centuries and the pleasure has become predictably diluted.  Derwyn Holder the talented composer-musician and creator of Aastral Visions has succeeded in creating a musical ambience which delivers that quintessential ingredient sought out by the ancient Greek sages, pleasure.  Indeed it is a pleasure achieve in a manner akin to that of the classical philosophers themselves-- simplicity... 

Born in Canada and brought up in New England, DH brings to this album a panorama of talent.  He attended Tufts Univ. and received his Masters in composition from American U. He studied sax and began playing professionally at sixteen.  Later he taught music and directed school bands, choirs, orchestras.  Switching his focus he began to play the bass and studied with H Stevens Brewster of the national symphony,.  In the past 10 years he has performed in clubs located in the Wash. D.C. areas etc...

--Dr. Nick Catalano, New York City, May 1977

Side b is the more interesting side being devoted more to electric instruments (I believe the first side is entirely played by their acoustic versions).  So as debut we get the obviously unusual track called Strange:

Immediately subsequent the vocal song called "She" just threw me off my chair when I first heard it with its utterly bizarre melody:

This is not, absolutely not, FM radio hit material.  Thank god!!!

Reverting back to some acoustic instruments check out the incredible evocation of bells ringing here perhaps in a deserted cathedral town, for Carillon:

After listening to this you will agree with the Doctor:  these guys really understood beauty and the sheer pleasure of beautiful art.  But this record is not simple-- not at all.  His diagnosis was guilty of malpractice on that score-- thank god.

Saturday 20 June 2015

US Air Force Band Rock Group's Mach One [no download, but have a listen to this killer track]

For the most part consisting of cover versions of annoying pop hits the last song is a true stunner of a composition and the reason I posted this here.  I will honestly say there is no reason to listen to the remainder, but oh what a shock when I heard that last track composed by one of the US army dudes (whose name is Mike Crotty) in the band, presumably the singer.  It's absolutely an out-of-the-ballpark hit song which sadly never made it big anywhere, I'm guessing.  Have a listen to Fly Away:

If anyone can tell me about any cover versions or anything about this hit, please comment below.  I would love to know if some other more famous singer did a cover that charted somehow somewhere, because this composition really doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

Unfortunately it's difficult to do a search for it due to the sheer commonness of the title: there have been many other songs with the same.


Notice that this group made a few records.  I have the next one and with a cover version of "Stairway to Heaven" - you just know that it can't be worth hearing.  And you'd be mostly right.  Notice that on their 1983 record, they covered Rush's classic Tom Sawyer: you've got to be kidding me!!  sacrilege!  off with their heads!  oops-- that's not appropriate at all...
You can't touch that song.  You just can't.

Here's the tracklist:

A1 Wake Up The World
Written-By – MSgt Mike Crotty

A2 Betcha By Golly Wow   [EGADS!]
Written-By – L. Creed*, T.Bell

A3 Love Do Me Right
Arranged By – TSgt Mike Askew*, MSgt Mike Crotty*

A4 You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
Arranged By – MSgt Mike Crotty
Written-By – Stevie Wonder

B1 Dancin' And Singin'
Arranged By – MSgt Mike Crotty
Written-By – L. Graham*

B2 Together Forever
Arranged By – TSgt Chuck Carthan
Written-By – TSgt Vernia Lewis*

B3 This Masquerade
Arranged By – MSgt Mike Crotty
Written-By – Leon Russell

B4 Fly Away
Written-By – MSgt Mike Crotty

And let's give a big shout out to those troops fighting for democracy, liberty, the american way of life and the freedom of the US govt to spy on everyone and arrest anybody! Let's salute those wonderful soldiers in those faraway bunkers in the Midwest where after playing video games all night they get to control those unmanned drones over foreign territory dropping bombs on muslim schoolkids (no girls of course, only boys) and wedding parties!  This song is for you... And be sure to stick a yellow ribbon on your Dodge Ram back bumper to show your support for them methamphetamine- or alertec-fueled night pilots dropping bombs on random targets in faraway countries committing what is usually called murder in their home countries, but it's always ok in muslim countries, after all, they dared to kill US citizens and for this they have been sentenced to death, and hey, why not export capital punishment since the US is the only Western country that still does this (at least if you're black-- if you're white you get life in jail)-- call it takeout capital punishment, you know, like Panda Express, who deliver Chinese food to your door, we can deliver capital punishment to your home countries...

And all my apologies if I offended anyone with the above satire!
Please enjoy Fly Away!!

Thursday 18 June 2015

No Nett - ...Und Köln Pennt ? (GERM, 1981)

I listened to it again and couldn't believe how good it is.  From before:

For those not familiar, this is another one of those late german fusion bands with highly progressive elements.  Their two LPs are quite easily available already, but their EP is less well known.  Of course as is so often the case in these matters it turns out this is their masterpiece, which is why I wanted to share it with all here.  The first track is a little weaker, but the second and third are beyond magnificent.  "Once I had a Dream [... it was a nightmare]" sounds like one of the best compositions by Michael Mantler, full of angular melodies and gory dissonances but it just works perfectly.  Abruptly, half-way through, the song transforms into a march as if by Kurt Weill with background screaming!  Unbelievable compositional skills here.

Then, the last opus (from country to city and back), which is by guitarist Raimond Kroboth, is particularly stunning, recalling Pekka Pohjola with his head full of modern classical Bartok-like sounds.  The first two compositions are by sax player Norbert Stein, well-known in german jazz.  Mr. Kroboth had another record out under band name Heinz called Der Spion which is well worth hearing as well.


Wednesday 17 June 2015

Lenny Breau's Five O'clock Bells from 1979 [acoustic guitar] [lossless]

My favourite record from him.  If anyone doesn't know this gentleman well-known in jazz circles, please listen to this.  There is no one, repeat, no one who has ever played the guitar like him either before or since (he passed away in the early 1980s).

Why do I say this?  Have a listen to the trademark harmonics plus chords style that makes one gape open-mouthed in disbelief.  Anyone who has ever attempted to master the picking of harmonics on the guitar especially can appreciate what he does with these in some of his scales made up entirely of these notes.

In his own words:

"I approach the guitar like a piano. I've reached a point where I transcend the instrument. A lot of the stuff I play on the 7-string guitar is supposed to be technically impossible, but I spent over twenty years figuring it out. I play the guitar like a piano, there's always two things going on at once. I'm thinking melody, but I'm also thinking of a background. I play the accompaniment on the low strings."

You think he's showing off a little?  Not at all-- have a listen to the opening to the first track, in which he's clearly indulging in a little gratuitous virtuosity:

Admittedly it's an idiotic old jazz standard again, but man, does he ever play it beautifully.

A very basic bio from discogs;

Accomplished guitarist who developed an unique playing style blending, country, classical, jazz and flamenco. Often in the same arrangements.  In the beginning, he found inspiration in musicians like Merle Travis on traditional fingerpicking style, and Bill Evans when it came to harmonics and approach.  He has been sited to be one of the most influential guitarist by many pro guitarists both while he was alive and posthumously, and gained recognition by the likes of Chet Atkins, who he became great friends with and collaborated with in the studio. Over time he sought to continue the development of his playing styles by using custom made 7-string guitars.  He had an long battle with drug use since the 60´s and was found drowned in his pool in Los Angeles. 

This bio glosses over his intense heroin addiction which led to his demise (an unsolved homicide), and really, was the most significant aspect of his adult life.  An excellent documentary was made on the subject by his daughter.  Like artists Chet Baker (not Atkins), Curt Kobain, my favourite singer Marvin Gaye (who was shot by his father!) his art surely became great due to the profound suffering he must have experienced.  These people (perhaps Radka Toneff was one of them), have such an excess amount of sensitivity and emotion that they inevitably become drawn to the cheap promises of drugs as a fix for their pain and tragedies, though in the interim, they are able to toss off the most astonishingly beautiful ideas to the rest of us in the audience who watch with jealousy when we really should be terrified of the horrors they have experienced...

Rest in peace now, Lenny (August 5, 1941 – August 12, 1984) ...

A recent release of an LA 1984 bootleg, produced by none other than Randy Bachman, was publicized quite a bit lately.  I haven't heard it myself, I've listened to all the original 70s albums and this one is-- by far-- the most beautiful, due mostly to the fact he composed almost all the music here, and the melancholy, gentle, and thoughtful sound of his playing is just heartbreaking when you read a bit about his life.  You can even hear him sing on the title track in his gruff, druggy baritone voice, clearly unpracticed, but gorgeous in its intense sincerity:

Here one of the oddities is the polyrhythm after the chorus in which the Bflat strummed chord and the e-c-d-g 'bell' melody are in different rhythms (4 over 3?)-- something one virtually never hears done on a guitar, unless there are two guitarists of course.  On a piano it's easy due to the separation of hands.  A classic old story about him tells of Atkins, before he met him, walking by a studio and saying, who are those two great guitarists playing? to which they answer, actually there's only one man in there.

As I've said before of other music, this song is so beautiful it's like magic.

At the end of the record is a track penned by McCoy Tyner called Visions, and it's the big masterpiece here.  Pulling out a nice slightly fuzzy electric guitar you will be shocked by the simultaneous two-guitar sound on this track in which melody or solo and bass comp are in different rhythms again (here simplified by the fact it's in E), and the brilliance of the soloing and the mystical sound.  Note towards the end when the modal E minor transforms as if in a period of enlightenment into E major: wow.  That's religion, for me.

Monday 15 June 2015

CBJ 670's Barigozzi - Fabor: Synthetronics

A very experimental album that is virtually unlistenable, at least to myself, but I would like to thank the library collector friend who shared it with me.  Having said that, it's at least available in lossless format-- hurrah!

In the next two weeks I will be on holidays and will be posting only review-only material.  Have a listen to the sample tracks, all the albums are worth exploring at least for some reason or another.

In early July I will be back with more available music: library, fusion, progressive rock, folk, and some explorations into the unknown-- guaranteed!!

Sunday 14 June 2015

Ginga Rale Band's 1980 Wir Bedauern... A True Masterpiece of Progressive Rock!

It behooves us to first quote Tom from cd reissue, years ago:

We've said this many times before, but it can be somewhat mind-boggling that an album this good can be so deeply buried for so long. We've certainly turned up albums that are just as rare - but they may be more obviously flawed or teetering on the fringes of the genre we love. But Ginga Rale Band's debut is the kind of album that is likely to have wide appeal. After hearing it for the first time, I wanted an original LP immediately. I braced myself for the inevitable sticker shock. That collectors knew about it already, and the proverbial arm and leg was the asking price. But I was pleased to find one online for under $100. Not cheap to be certain, but it could have been 10 times that for all I knew. It took a long time to seal that deal, and thus the extended delay from point of first hearing (early December) until reporting here.

Musically, what are we talking about anyway? The AC introduced them to me this way: "Led by keyboardist Pipi Furz and guitarist Rainer Hochrainer, this virtually unknown Austrian group conjured up something truly amazing here. The backbone of their music is a kind of loose progressive jazz-rock of the distinctly "kraut-fusion" variety, but that doesn't really tell the half of it. Long, sprawling tracks unwind in a non-linear fashion, with all sorts of unexpected twists and turns, bizarre vocal interjections and sonic detours, creating an unsettling and distinctly surreal atmosphere that hovers over the entire album like a weird mist. Wild, reckless creativity and delirious imagination abound, entirely at odds with the standard funky fusion and symphonic prog that dominated the Germanic scene of the time. These guys were on too strange a trip to ever think about compromising or playing it safe, describing themselves as a "Dada Rock Brainstorming Cooporation" right on the cover. If this album had come out of 1972 Berlin, it would already be legendary. But emerging from this particular time and place, it never really had a chance. A lost krautrock classic if there ever was one."

It would seem obvious the name was a play on the ginger ale drink. And that's been confirmed. There's actually a page on the web about them. The AC took this a step further and added these historical notes: "My German is nonexistent, but with the (somewhat dubious) help of Babelfish, I was able to determine that the band was founded in 1977 in Salzburg as the "Ginger Ale Band". In 1980 they changed the name to Ginga Rale Band, and released "Wir Bedauern...". It seems their "dada rock" concept saw them producing some sort of stage show with film projectors, additional actors, etc, (syncs up with the Austrian guy on RYM who said something like "They held nice open air festivals..."). It seems like after this there were some major line-up changes, and the band took a totally different direction. As you can see on the discography provided by that site, they produced a couple of (presumably private press) singles, which seem to be tied in with some kind of rock opera named "Rock Dream" that they were involved in. I checked around and amazingly found one of these tracks posted on youtube! As you can hear, it's angsty punk/new wave oriented stuff with female vocals, totally at odds with their earlier material. I think this is down to the line-up changes that I mentioned, and this brings up another interesting point. It seems that after "Wir Bedauern...", the band mostly became a vehicle for Hochrainer and his wife. In fact, it turns out that "Rainer" Hochrainer was actually named Paul, and you can also see his rather extensive discography (extending up to the current day) on that site. It turns out that Hochrainer and a couple of the other Ginga Rale guys actually guested on the first Aardvark (the Austrian one, obviously) LP, an album I remember hearing a long time ago and not liking at all (stylistically all over the map, from what I can recall). Anyway, after these singles they made an appearance on an obscure Austrian new wave/punk compilation under the name of "Friques Ginger Rale Band".

This sort of punk attitude unfortunately carries down to the track titles on "Wir Bedauern...", and represents the only problematic aspect of the album. There are only two tracks per side, and none are actually listed on the record label itself. But the back cover is clear on what those titles are. I've spent the last 13 years or so of my career heavily involved with Human Resources, so I shudder at seeing the N word. It's not clear why they use this title twice (even though they are different songs). The album doesn't appear to be racist in any way, and the content is almost entirely instrumental. I would imagine any kind of reissue would have to at least address this within the liner notes or even a renaming of the title(s). Some may say we are all too politically correct for our own good, but I could see many more folks being just flat out offended by it (including me frankly).

Back to The AC's historical notes: "Finally, in 1984 "Information" was released, and then it seems they disbanded. I had heard that this later LP was in a Germanic polit-rock/agit-rock style, but based on the album's entry on that site and the style they had already been playing in for the past 3 years, I'd say it's probably more like a new wave/agit-punk mixture. Obviously well outside our interest area, in any case. Anyway, I haven't been able to find any useful links to this point, but I'm hoping that Hochrainer's relatively recent musical activity would mean making contact with him is still possible, hopefully leading to some interest in a Ginga Rale Band reissue or archival release."

Ginga Rale Band is a bulls eye for those that love the German Kraut fusion style, with the added bonus of successfully re-creating the atmosphere of the edgy cosmic Berlin-styled Krautrock of 1971.

Amazing find.

Priority: 1

So this is a masterpiece of ingeniously written rock, guitar-based and quite hard and raw, to boot.  Database information here.  As Tom mentioned above, there are two songs (A1 and B1) on this record shockingly entitled Nigger.  Here is the second, instrumental, one:

Now this title is to say the least problematic, today, though almost certainly the lyrics of the first dealt with the oppression of minorities (but how does one explain giving this title to an instrumental???) the word is one of the biggest current-day taboos, like pedophilia and denying the holocaust.  (Incidentally with regards to the satire issue with Charlie Hebdo, claiming offensive humor as a freedom of speech right, it's obvious we in the West have our own untouchable taboos: you cannot make fun of homosexuals, ethnic minorities, deny the holocaust, or encourage pedophilia-- if you publish cartoons on these last two sacrosanct topics, expect the police to press charges against you.  Particularly if we make fun of the holocaust.  So to say freedom of speech is OK when making fun of Islam is complete and utter hypocrisy.  I am betting you will search in vain for a comparable satirical cartoon encouraging pedophilia with small children in Charlie Hebdo.)

Anyways back to the matter at hand.  They did a second record some years later which still has progressive moments but is not as genius.  It's well worth hearing, for a few of the tracks still have that crazy magic, but in more slicked-back form.  A good comparison would be the early eighties band No Nett, with its mix of funk, eighties imports, and progressive songwriting.  Incidentally, their last EP I posted here two years ago and it's still their best work (and better than Ginga Rale 2!!!)  For those curious I can reup that one.

Please enjoy this!

Friday 12 June 2015

Sigrid Meyer and Serene, 1982, from Austria

There are several songwriters here, all quite proficient.  The first track was written by Michael Henning who went on to the Berlin Experimental Orchestra-- what a great name, will have to check it out when I have more money.  There is of course a lot of free jazz in here, not unexpected, which some might take a pass on.  Equally annoying to me is the scat-type vocalizing which drives me bonkers, as mentioned before, due to my over-attendance to many of those summer jazz festivals around town that attract the nonagenarians who proceed to dance in the aisles whenever a poor imitation of Ella Fitzgerald starts doing those stupid doo-wop-de-poops at which point I always reach for my beer with a view to spilling it on the oldsters' white sneakers.  Perhaps next time I'll try to sit through one of those concerts by wearing a large depends diaper like the rest of them do.

Full credits on discogs.  A gorgeously altered (in a very progressive direction) little ballad called "Kinder"  (Children) which was evidently borrowed from a German folk singer called Bettina Wegner:

Get ready for a shock when you listen to the original, simplistic version, from Bettina:

Like Radka Toneff, it's amazing what genius can do with such unpromising material.  You can barely even recognize the original chord structure or even melody such was the transformation.  Looking at the back, a credit was given to "Berg" who doesn't otherwise appear on there, presumably the arranger here.  When I hear something so beautiful, it's like magic, a process that is unbelievable, like something transcendental.  It's like a miracle, to give you faith.  Late at night if I can't sleep and I listen to my 'favourites' playlist on the ipod I am amazed at the creations people have made that are so gorgeous and intricate and I almost have to cry thinking I have to abandon these beautiful things one day.  How can we ever leave a world that has such beauty in it?  But better not think about these things.

And a beautiful singer indeed she was.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

CBW 659: Mood Music Library,1973, Studies For Guitar And Drama Beat [download again]

Quick break from the gems to bring you a gift from my library collector friend.

This is a better than average library album with some interesting music; despite the title it's not all guitar soloing.  First example a representative track featuring the guitar, Tikiunka:

Incidentally, the guitarist's name is Erich Fresti and he is also credited as a German film composer-- not surprisingly.

On the second side an orchestral number called Bussy and Brassy:

Notice how this teen-beat 60s discotheque style moves almost imperceptibly into modulations and more intricate sounds, thanks to a composition by the formidable Illin:

Of course, this same E. Illin I commented on favourably in the past in the context of "Mixed Shorties", and Gert Wilden, the famous German composer, also contributes at the end of side b.  Check it out!

Monday 8 June 2015

Pollen's Ry D'Oxhe, Belgium 1978


This album has always been highly in demand and presumably quite expensive if one should try to purchase a copy (note last copy sold on discogs though was only 100 usd).  The review there is completely inaccurate:

This group from the South of Belgium (meaning they were French-speaking) made an interesting album, which combined the spacious sound of Pulsar, Dragon (the Belgian group) with the more poetic and dramatic Ange inspired progressive rock with an odd combination of Dylan-esque street folk and depressing blues. For 1978, this is indeed a good album. It featured a surprising rendition of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

Any group that felt the need to cover Lucy in the sky definitely can be easily dismissed, no?  I have trouble finding a song I can recommend hearing.  So instead I will present the first, title track:

Track 8 is a blues that to me is abominably bad:

So, this time, I disagree completely with Tom.  This shouldn't even be listened to, once.  But here it is anyways.

Saturday 6 June 2015

Sky High in Canada 1979

I absolutely adore this record with its cute attempts at pop stardom and nods towards fusion and prog.
It was featured long ago on Tom's cd reissue wishlist:

Here's an album that has been getting some buzz lately within the collector community, and the ebay prices have soared because of it. I received info from both The AC and Midwest Mike roughly at the same time, and both unequivocally panned it. Of course, the first two tracks are pure late 70's mirror ball disco numbers, certainly not the sounds one wants to hear when shelling out hundreds of $.

This copy comes courtesy of The AC (saving MM the trouble of having to painfully endure it one more time). After track 2, I found the music to be relatively pleasant, not too far removed from the French band Cortex. Though by no means does it exude the exoticism of their first couple of records.

The AC says: "Here we go again... Another one of those "Jekyll and Hyde" LPs that couldn't quite decide whether it wanted to aim for the charts or pursue something musically interesting. The first side is absolute dreck, a nauseous brew of cheese-tacular disco, whiter-than-white funk rock and trite AOR/pop tracks that will have you clawing your ears out. There's one sort of proggy AOR piece towards the end that's okay, but the rest is just unspeakably bad. Then we hit side two, and it's almost like an entirely different album. A frenetic instrumental fusion track leads things off, complete with some scorching lead guitar. Unfortunately, there's one more bit of pain to endure, in the form of a hilariously bad lounge-funk number, but after that they finally turn the corner for good. The remainder consists of a couple tracks of pleasant spacey fusion with female vocals, followed by another excellent instrumental jazz-rock workout. So, we end up with about an even split in the good-to-crap ratio here. The group were from Regina, Saskatchewan (where the albums was also recorded), but the label was based out of Vancouver. To be honest, this album is a very marginal entry for this list, but I think it's worth highlighting due to the fact that it's just recently emerged onto the collector scene and is already garnering some very high prices. Recommended only to obsessive genre completists (like myself), the rest should pass."

And there you have it. Yet another album that has become part of the collector hype machine. An unfortunate consequence to the hobby itself.

Some might agree, some might disagree, I am personally in the latter camp.  I find some of their compositions to be so charming I've listened dozens of times to them since I first heard this years ago.  Now you can decide for yourselves.

One of the vocal tracks, Life is Worth Living:

A wonderful fusion outing called Duke:

Thursday 4 June 2015

Roberto Picchi - Raggi di Sole 1976

Again, from Tom:

Picchi's sole work is technically listed as a singer-songwriter album, but with most of the tracks exceeding 7 minutes, you can bet that instrumental progressive rock music is also being employed. Acoustic guitar, violin, piano, sax, flute and hand percussion lead the instrumental parade. Comparisons to the best of Claudio Rocchi, Mauro Pagani and Emilio Locurcio wouldn't be out of place. A late era Fonit-Cetra release, and comes at the tail end of the original Italian progressive rock movement. One of the very few Italian progressive rock albums still not on CD. Features a wonderful gatefold cover. A natural choice for BTF.

Priority: 3

Absolutely agreed.  Here is a wonderful track called Basilea which goes through all the gorgeous changes that are the hallmark of progressive rock: modulations, dissonances, odd arpeggios, etc.:

For me, the chamber music composition starting with woodwinds is what really knocks me out.  Long live prog...

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Sound Creation's Rock Fantasia complete

[no back scan]

Truly a beautiful cover painting if ever I saw one.  Let us start, as we often do, with Tom's review of a partial listening, from December 11th, 2014:

I've been sitting on "Rock Fantasia" for awhile. This came via a tip from Laser Ken a couple of months ago. I've only heard one side of the album, but it's really quite an amazing side! We've been talking about the early 70s Japanese underground for a few years now on the CDRWL. It's amazing to me just how many treasures there are to be found over there - and they are all ridiculously obscure. In the last few years, we've seen CD reissues of these gems - always limited and expensive. But they've been worth the time, money, and effort for me at least. Perhaps this will be another title we will see? I hope so...

Here is the description that came from the dealer that was selling this (and where I got the sound clip, which is no longer available.... however for the clever amongst you, do a Google search and use the cache feature...).

"The monster Japanese progressive psych LP...!!!! Same series of "S.Tanaka - British Rock Live" LP by Teichiku label. Pink Floyd type progressive rock music. The arranger is Yusuke Hoguchi! He is the leader of People - Ceremony"Buddha meet rock"!! Sound Creation is a secret band. All band member's names are hidden. The inside of the sleeve has liner notes. Even the reviewer of the liner notes does not know it. However, I think the band is same of "Buddha meet rock."...! Because the arranger is Yusuke Hoguchi... If it is right, the guitarist is Kimio Mizutani!!!! This LP is really rare, so Pokora's book does not list this LP yet." 

Well there you have it. When he says "Pink Floyd type progressive rock music", he means "Ummagumma" era. This is the good stuff. Space rock with a psychedelic freakout backdrop provided by no less than the legendary resident freakmeister himself: Kimio Mizutani.

Priority: 1 or 2  (if it's like the track I heard, we'll go Priority 1... but for all I know Side 2 is a choral piece, or children's music, or God knows what. The Japanese albums from this period are crazy like that. Even if that's the case, it's worth a CD for the one side which is over 20 minutes long).

The AC has also chimed in regarding this band with his usual expertise on the Japanese scene: "As you suspected, it was your typical exploitation studio project that was so common at the time in Japan. It was indeed another Yusuke Hoguchi-led session (People, Mannheim Rock Ensemble, etc.), and was actually the second Sound Creation LP. The first one was also released on Teichiku (in '71) and was called (wait for it...) "Progressive Rock"! (scan attached). Anyway, both of these were basically covers/arrangement albums, but given the psychedelic "New Rock" makeover. As you might expect, the side that the dealer featured is the more interesting of the two. "

I will have to disagree with the above and tell you that the second side, a long track with the songs listed below, is quite impressive if you take it on its own terms.  Yes, it comprises recognizable melodies, but seamlessly it creates quite a magical progressive experience when heard from beginning to end, like Pink Floyd did on the long tracks "Shine on...".  The first record (misleadingly called "Progressive Rock"), also cover tunes, is completely forgettable and not even worth a second listen, surprisingly.  Not even worth searching for.  It's this second record that is the masterpiece.

So in the comments I will include the first side, freely available, which was heard by Tom above.

The best is a3:


A1 Introduction (Introduction/Theme From Shaft)
A2 Empty World (I'll Follow The Sun / Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves)
A3 Arp's Theme (Family Affair / Ca N'Arrive Qu' Aux Autres

B1 Fantasia (Mammy Blue Suite/An Old Fashioned Love Song/Peace Train/Sweet Caroline/Stones/Brand New Key/Out Of Fantasy)
Can you believe those songs they cover?